Licensed for the first time in the musical’s history for performance by an amateur company, BMOS Musical Theatre Company’s production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was every bit as professional as some of the productions of seen on stage.
Childhood classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the story of widowed oddball inventor Caractacus Potts and his children, Jeremy and Jemima Potts, who find out their beloved toy, an old racing car, is at risk of being sold off.
Both a film and musical, based off the novel by Ian Flemming, of James Bond fame, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s plot can differ slightly. Nevertheless, it’s essentially the story widowed oddball inventor Caractacus Potts and his children, Jeremy and Jemima Potts, who restore their beloved toy, a previous European Grand Prix winner, and keep it out of the clutches of the tyrannical Baron of Vulgaria.
In BMOS Musical Theatre Company’s production, garage owner, Mr. Coggins is about to sell Chitty off for scrap but offers to sell it to the Potts family if Caractacus can find the money. His invention of a whistling sweet fails to succeed in being sold to confectionary manufacturer Lord Scrumptious, despite the help of his daughter Truly Scrumptious.
Instead, Caractacus sells one of his inventions at the local fair, buys the machine and fixes it up good as new – or better, the previous European Grand Prix can now fly. But the villainous Baron of Vulgaria has his eyes on Chitty, and dispatches two spies to find and recover the vehicle. Instead of kidnapping Caractacus, they manage to spirit away his father and the Potts family, joined by Truly, go off on a rescue mission.
The more I think about it, the more I realise just how entirely ridiculous the story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is, but it also places it perfectly to be a proper night of escapism.
Dick Van Dyke plays the role of Caractacus in the 1960s film, but BMOS welcomes back stalwart James Gorfanifar for his fourth stint with the company in three separate decades. He is every bit the Caractacus you would want, with an earnestness to play the main character of such a whimsical play. Carys Wilson plays Truly Scrumptious equally well, putting with such a well-spoken English accent it’s a good job the Alex give us plastic cups, because it could cut glass. Daisy Green and Rui Greaves who played Jemima and Jeremy on the evening I saw it were superb and I look forward to seeing them in many more productions.
There are some hiccups, like misbehaving dogs but the audience are so utterly bought into the charm of the play and BMOS’s production that no one seems to mind. In fact, the confidence to use live animals shows just how well put together BMOS Musical Theatre Company’s production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is. The only real low point, and even calling it that is a stretch, is an overly long scene with the Child-catcher running through the audience.
The rest of the production is superb, there is nothing amateurish about it and it’s easy to see why Birmingham’s oldest and largest amateur theatre company have had a long and successful history. Long may it continue; BMOS Musical Theatre Company, you got me off my feet and put shaved off the jaded edges of a beaten down soul. Well done.
BMOS Musical Theatre Company’s production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang plays at the New Alexandra Theatre until 30 June – go see it. Tickets are available here.
This was a press event.